Can the Lilies achieve success this season?

With two cup finals guaranteed, promotion still on the cards and their star striker missing, will Chatteris Town still be able to eye up a taste for glory? Dan Mason explains.

Goals Galore: The Lilies do not seem to be suffering without Gillies (far left)
Goals Galore: The Lilies do not seem to be suffering without Gillies (far left)

Even with silverware being a real target, the Lilies’ aim of playing at a higher level in the next campaign is proving to becoming more realistic. With at least seven games in hand over the top six and lying seventh in Kershaw Senior A, there is a real chance for a push towards the summit, which manager Ashley Taylor believes in: “We have a young and hungry team that will do all they can to bring success to this football club.”

Taylor’s men have been steadily progressing, having won five of the last seven games in all competitions. Speaking on his side’s improvement in terms of league and cup positions, Taylor said: “If you asked me at the start of the season if I would accept the position we are in right now, I would have happily accepted.”

After previously losing to runaway leaders Outwell Swifts, the gap between them and the top has widened, but with the mentality of winning “every game we play”, there could only be one way the season can plan out.

The attacking style that has been implemented since August has been a real advantage for the Fenland team, having scored 66 goals in total so far. In particular, 26 of those have come from striker Craig Gillies who recently departed, but Taylor isn’t concerned.

“Craig leaving has actually had a positive effect on the team,” he said. “I challenged the team to show anyone who thought we were one-dimensional and a one-man team that they were wrong and, so far, they have done that.”

Life without Gillies has not stopped this year’s goal machine from working. Eight have been scored in the last four since, which may not prevent their chances of success, according to Taylor’s philosophy. “Football is about the work of a team, not an individual,” he said.

The Lilies have 14 players currently occupying the first-team, with “five or six” other names trying to break into the side, so the Chatteris man is not short of options. But one thing that the ex-Doddington United boss wants to see is “the players playing with a smile”, which might be a guarantee if his players continue to improve.

Another of Taylor’s aims is to “inject enthusiasm back in the local community and increase the support.” Home form has been a reason to believe this as 12 victories from 14 in league and cup, plus 44 strikes, may tell the people of Chatteris what they are missing.

Having not recorded a home defeat since the opening day, Taylor is turning West Street into a fortress, which could prove vital for the Lilies’ hopes of success. But with potentially 20 fixtures still to play, glory could well be a larger uncertainty.

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